Feature Archive

Women, Sex, and Diabetes

Men aren't the only ones who experience sexual problems as a result of diabetes.

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

When most people hear the words "diabetes and sexual dysfunction," they automatically think it's the man's problem. But women with diabetes can also experience sexual problems related to their blood sugar levels.

For diabetes educator Ann Albright, PhD, RD, that's not only a medical fact, it's a fact of life.

Living with type 1 diabetes for 41 years, Albright says that when glucose isn't under good control, a woman's sex life can suffer.

"It's not diabetes per se that harms your intimate life. It's the complications of uncontrolled blood sugar levels that cause problems for both men and women -- the only difference is that many women simply aren't as aware of this complication as men are," she tells WebMD. Albright also is the president of health education for the American Diabetes Association.

Albright says women are getting better at coming forward with intimacy issues, but when it comes to diabetes, most are still reluctant to talk to their doctor.

Endocrinologist Loren Wissner Greene agrees. "Women aren't talking to their doctors about it, doctors aren't talking to women about it, and so for many it remains a silent problem that goes undiagnosed and untreated." Greene is a clinical associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.